Special Projects Take a Lot of Time and Mess

“Mom?”

“Mmmm?”

“They’re voting for student officers at school and I want to run. I can spend $40 in materials and can give out gum and mints and need to make some posters.”

I eyed my oldest from my peripheral vision, so as to not crash into anything whilst driving. Trying not to panic him nor myself, I thought before phrasing a question. “Okay. And …when do you need to have them done?”

“I’m not sure. Maybe Friday.”

It was Wednesday. Given his usual record, that was a pretty long time to prepare.

“Okay. Well, I can’t buy you supplies right now. We need to get home and clean for your brother’s baptism this weekend.”

“That’s okay. I’ll have time.”

I wasn’t sure. He had a history of not only springing things on me the half hour before they were due, but also of completely breaking down over the inevitable failure from not being prepared. Fortunately for me (and him), whoever was in charge of the campaigning sent all parents of interested students an informative e-mail.

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Did I say “fortunately?” More like “indispensably.” For one thing, she said the materials were due Monday instead of Friday. For another, there were size requirements on posters and ….a campaign video.

Which is what he we have been working on since church this morning.

After a meltdown yesterday in which he yelled about not needing us to suggest campaign ideas but that he really just needed us to suggest campaign ideas, he came up with a Minecraft theme. Actually all on his own; he crafted a zombie, squid, villager, and slime poster with pun-laced slogans like, “Don’t be a Zombie, Vote For Me.”

He took my suggestion to use some of our thousands of Lego Minecraft sets to do a stop-motion video. His father is helping making the whole thing on the computer.

I am very proud of my son, but try to avoid special projects like this. When he (or his brothers) get the look and start discussing supplies and cost and what I need to do; I foresee the stress, yelling, meltdown, extra store trips, last-minute failures, and special project hangover when it’s all over.

I am frequently left -not only holding the bag; but buying the bag, filling it with expensive things we can’t reuse when most don’t get used, driving the bag to school when they accidentally leave it at home, and then cleaning up all the bag scraps left over the next day.

Yet… this is childhood. This is learning. This is trying and mistakes and all that important stuff I want my kids to learn.

Not that remembering those things makes the mess and the stress go away. What really makes it worth it is the other look: pride. It’s that look that lights up my kid’s face, even subtly, when he surveys what he has done. It’s when he smiles with a sense of accomplishment.

Having him clean up afterwards is a nice perk, too. We’ll do that as well. Probably Tuesday.

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Sunday, May 12: Shared a previously-written bit on Mother’s Day: “Happy Mother’s Day?

Monday, May 13: Trotted out a short poem titled, “Just a Little Housework.”

Tuesday, May 14: Shared a quote I found online.

Wednesday, May 15: A toast! -to toast with “Breakfast Tip 3.

Thursday, May 16: “Time Out!,” a snippet setting the ‘punishment’ record straight.

Friday, May 17: Reminisced on Pregnant Times and how we ought to lay off ourselves in “Don’t Be so Hard on Yourself.

Saturday, May 18: Shared WTFDAD‘s tweet about scary(?) stories.

Sunday, May 19: That’s today!

Photo Credits:
Annie Spratt
Samuel Zeller

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Parenting Is Hard, so Why Still Do It?

Some might think that I’m a super mom from what I write online. Buy ahead, I admonish. Or, set boundaries with children. Even through the sarcasm I sound as if I always parent with love and patience and such.

Guess what? I don’t. I am human.

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Looking at the reactions other parents have to life, motherhood, and children; I’d even wager I’m more human and imperfect than most mothers. I’m terrible at time management, chore management, and child management. I can’t juggle the balance between firm but don’t-screw-your-kid-up some days. I yell when they’ve punched each other for the umpteenth time that day and cry when they’ve kicked each other for that many times plus one.

Given all that, I still try. Why? Frankly, I try because they still wake up every day needing me.

I’ve literally given up some days. I’ve shut myself in the closet with nothing but a blanket and a pillow and resolved to never come out. “Let them figure it out,” I say, tears leaking into the carpet.

When they were younger, they’d poke their little fingers under the door crack and beg me to come out again. Now that they’re older, they put on “10 Hours of Screaming Goat” and see how much I can stand.

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I often resent my position of The Only Toilet Paper Replacer and Sole Lint Trap Cleaner. I sigh as I throw away empty cereal boxes left on counters. I cringe when I pick up dirty underpants left behind couches or stuffed in a houseplant.

But, whether to tiny fingers or screaming goats, I always get up.

No, that doesn’t mean I feel better. It doesn’t mean I feel a surge of affection and motivation. I’m just not the sort who is able to snap on a pair of rose-colored glasses when reality keeps slapping my face with empty boxes and misplaced underpants.

So, what keeps me going? They do.

Even as I type this, my five-year-old asks me questions about The Avengers. Two minutes later he wonders when lunchtime will come. Thirty seconds after that, he’s wondered if I’ll play a game with him. He’s not the only one; behind his questions is a chorus of noise in the form of the morning’s dishes, yesterday’s garbage, and every day’s laundry.

When I am in the thick of parenting, the only thing that gets me off the floor is the compulsion to keep them alive. All you parents know this and have experienced it. Yet; you also know something more. I’ve written about it before and it is still as true in the moment of immediate responsibility as it is in the times they are finally asleep.

It is love. We love these miniature humans. We always will.

They may not fully appreciate that love till we successfully kick them out and get them to make their own humans, but it’s enough for now. It’s enough to keep them alive and fed and hugged and scolded and kissed and forgiven till then. It’s at least enough to keep the toilet paper full.

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Sunday, April 28: “Me Time Just Might Be Wishful Thinking,” an observation on how possible it is to take time for ourselves as parents.

Monday, April 29: Wrote a limerick called “A Limerick About Tardiness.”

Tuesday, April 30: Shared a quote by Diane Keaton.

Wednesday, May 1: Plated a fifth dinner tip about trying new recipes.

Thursday, May 2: “Early to Bed??,” a quick thought about the accuracy of old adages.

Friday, May 3: Advised in favor of the occasional special family photo session in “Go for Perfection …Sometimes.”

Saturday, May 4: Shared Sarah Lake-Mitchell‘s tweet about accidental naptime.

Sunday, May 5: That’s today!

 

Photo Credits:
Image by Mandyme27 from Pixabay
Image by marcisim from Pixabay
Image by skalekar1992 from Pixabay

Go for Perfection …Sometimes

One of my favorite movie quotes comes from the 1995 film French Kiss. Kevin Kline, as the dirty Frenchman Luc, is giving Meg Ryan (the naïve American/Canadian, Kate) advice about flirting. He says women need to be mysterious, coy, and aloof. Later, in a fit of frustration, Kate explodes. She says she cannot pretend something she does not feel and must be what she does. “Happy: smile! Sad: frown! Use the corresponding face with the corresponding emotion!” she exclaims.

I relate to Kate.

I am a very authentic person. It’s a core value of mine. Not only does this mean, like Kate, I cannot act in a way I do not feel; but I also cannot pretend to have, say, a Pinterest life when I’m in more of a TV sitcom one. Like, the sitcom that got cancelled because of lagging story lines and too much male nudity (even the producers couldn’t get my boys to put on pants).

As such, I am not the sort to have things like family pictures or themed birthday parties. Welllll…. I’ve had both, but they look exactly like what was going on at the time: lost socks and recent fights for the family photo, and a fallen cake and dirty kitchen with the party.

When we look back at photographs or videos of the events in question, however, my husband and I find we only feel a fondness. We can see and remember the bad, but feel happy that we captured anything at all.

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We would literally never be able to pull this one off.

So, today’s parenting advice is another simple one:

Even if it’s not magazine-worthy, take the picture. Make the efforts you can and love the results.

The few times a more-coordinated relative than I has insisted on matching colors or an outside venue, we’ve gone. We’ve yelled at everyone to get in line and stop untucking his shirt and stop poking his brother in the bum and for Pete’s sake stop making faces so we have to take the picture AGAIN.

We’ve photoshopped heads. We’ve touched up sweat stains (chasing a child around a park is great cardio exercise). We’ve even cropped out background items like dog poop.

In the end we have a snapshot of the event. It’s lovely, it’s nice, and it’s still real because it’s us.

 

Photo Credit:
Jessica Rockowitz

Religion in the Home

I believe in teaching religion to children. I believe religion provides many benefits in terms of structure, expectations, service, faith, strength of character, honesty, work, belief, values, love, self-worth, and a foundation for life.

I do not, of course, believe a child ought to be raised in the sort of religious household where beating, belittling, or deprivation are employed.

A love and a learning of God and creation needs to come from a place of love and understanding. God must be taught with a lesson of broadening one’s own understanding and of seeking for a personal testimony.

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If a parent feels the need to beat prayer into a child, that child is not going to learn to love prayer.

I currently raise my children as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (formerly nicknamed Mormons). I was raised in this church as well, and so was my husband. We have both gone through variations and broadenings of our faiths and knowledge. Yet, we have no desire to raise our children outside of religion.

My main reason? Besides the benefits I listed above, it is logic.

I know many people who, when they leave or drift away from organized religion, feel lied to. In their affront they resolve that their children will not grow up deluded as they were. They vow an open mind and freedom of choice for their offspring that they never had.

Which seems to be forgetting one thing: They, as adults, are at the position they are today because of the upbringing and religious foundation they received as children.

I fully expect my children to doubt religion as adults. They’re intelligent, curious, and stubborn. They feel they already know more than many authority figures. They will question and maybe even decide to leave their childhood faith.

Maybe, like others I know, they will still attend, but with a broadened perspective.

I can’t control that, but I can help to give them somewhere from which to leap. And so, I say to give a child a religious somewhere to start from. This doesn’t mean that I’m judging anyone for choosing a faithless family life; it does mean I do not choose that for mine.

As with any thing in parenting, I say to keep the conversation open. Encourage questions. Encourage them to work through the answers on their own. Ready or not, some day they will have to fly on their own.

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Sunday, April 7: “Moderate Momming,” a moderate post about moderation.

Monday, April 8: Wrote a poem titled, “Bedtime.”

Tuesday, April 9: Shared an inspirational quote by Sir Gilbert Parker.

Wednesday, April 10: Recommended buying ahead in my Dinner Tip.

Thursday, April 11: “Your Mama’s So Fed Up,” a snippet about an unfair joke bias.

Friday, April 12: Advised against birthing one’s children near each other in, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Birthdays.”

Saturday, April 13: Shared Manic Mama‘s tweet about a son’s priorities.

Sunday, April 14: That’s today!

Photo Credits:
Aaron Burden
Alexander Watts

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Birthdays

Did you know there are roughly 365 days in a year? Once every four years, that number jumps to a whole 366. Ish.

Given the number of options there, you’d think I could have spread out the births of my children.

Instead, our birthdays are all in March and April, with one aberration conveniently very close to Christmas. Add Tax Day and our wedding anniversary to the mix, and March and April are pretty much like a second Christmas season.

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It’s all because of me. When I was younger I did not expect to get married. By default, I didn’t expect to have children. However; I vowed that, if I had children, I would never have their birthdays next to each other. This resolution came from the laments of peers and cousins who had to share special days. I would be a more fair mother than theirs; I would save the sanctity of days of birth.

Then I married someone in the same month we were born.

Then our first son came a little earlier than his due date and a little close to our births and anniversary.

The final straw was when my second son came nine weeks early. I figuratively threw up my hands and decided, so long as they all came into the world healthy, I would take it.

….which is why, when I was pregnant with our third, I spent all day of my birthday willing him to stay inside at least till our scheduled C-Section within the week. ‘Cause, by then, I had more realistic life goals.

 

Photo Credit:
S O C I A L . C U T
Kari Shea